Bill requires graphic warnings on cigarette packs

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Friday, April 4, 2014


A MEASURE pushing for the mandatory inclusion of picture-based warnings on all packages of tobacco products to dissuade people from smoking was has been filed in the House of Representatives.

Iloilo City Representative Jerry Treñas said that House Bill 3715 seeks to promote public awareness on the dangers associated with cigarette smoking and second hand smoke.

Treñas noted that the measure is "not an attack on the tobacco industry, rather, a public service information drive which factually and accurately describes the health consequences of smoking."

"We in the government must do our best to inform the public of the health hazards associated with tobacco products," Treñas said.

The lawmaker noted that the bill is in line with the Constitutional mandate for the State to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.

He added that the country is a signatory to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) whose guiding principle is to inform the people of the health consequences, addictive nature and mortal threat posed by tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.

"Non-price measures, such as the inclusion of picture-based warnings in the packaging of tobacco products, are recognized by the FCTC and the international community as an effective means to reduce tobacco consumption," Treñas added.

Under the measure, each tobacco product package must have picture-based warnings describing the harmful effects of tobacco use in conformity with the guidelines to be issued by the Department of Health (DOH), including minimum resolution, size and location within the principal display area of the warning.

The picture-based warning should occupy at least 50-percent of the principal display area in both the front and back panel of the two largest surface.

The photographic warning must be large, clear and visible and the accompanying text warning must be easily readable and legible.

The bill stated that there shall be a minimum of eight variations which shall be printed simultaneously shouldered exclusively by the tobacco manufacturers and/or importers, and rotated periodically for each brand family and each brand variation within a brand family for each package size and type, in accordance with the guidelines to be issued by the DOH.

For non-compliant manufacturers and importers of tobacco packages, the measure provides for a fine of P1-million, P5-million and P20-million and the revocation of the business permit and license to operate, for their first , second and third offenses, respectively.

Meanwhile, a person or legal entity who sells, distributes or displays any tobacco product without ensuring that the tobacco product package conforms with the provision of this measure or obscure/cover in part or in whole the picture-based warning of the tobacco packages within the selling area shall be penalized of P100,000, 500,000, and P2-million and the revocation of the business permit and license to operate, for the first, second, and third offenses, respectively.

The bill also stated that the Department of Health shall issue the rules and regulations for the proper implementation of this Act. (Sunnex)

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